My First Playlist: An Alternative Spin on Halloween

Bonnie Barton
5 min readOct 24, 2017
“People Are Strange”, from The Lost Boys’ soundtrack, makes the cut!

My first playlist on Spotify! BMT: Alternative Halloween Mix 2017. In typical Bonnie fashion, commentary for each song follows…

“Everyday is Halloween”, Ministry: Most people are familiar with Ministry from their 1987 release The Land of Rape and Honey. I’m one of the strange birds who only likes early Ministry, specifically their Twelve Inch Singles (1981–1984) release.

Even though I don’t like their later, harder music, I LOVE this song (and “Nature of Love”). I think it’s a masterpiece of the goth dance-side of alternative, like “Headhunter” by Front 242 or “Join in the Chant” by Nitzer Ebb.

It’s an obvious choice to be included on my dark wave Halloween compilation, but I’m alright with being a bit predictable in this case.

“Lucretia, My Reflection”, Sisters of Mercy: The truth is almost any Sisters of Mercy tune could find itself on a Halloween list. The Sisters of Mercy consistently offer a distinct, tempestuous yet controlled, powerful sound, but this song has a subtle bleakness to it that I think ideally lends itself to this playlist.

Credit: My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult website

“A Daisy Chain for Satan”, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult: Alright, I think this one lives up to the idea of a dark take on Halloween. This one isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea; however, I happen to dig this song so much. It’s fascinating, depressing, danceable, and unlike anything else out there.

I listened to My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult my junior and senior year of high school (and beyond) and wore a lot of black (though never any weird hair or make-up).

My parents would have freaked out if they knew I listened to a group with the word “cult” in it. I just liked the music — no cults for me!

My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult actually toured in Tallahassee my senior year of high school and I attended the insanely over-the-top show!

“Wake Up, Time to Die”, Pop Will Eat Itself: These guys were doing their own dark, groovy, slammin’ thing in 1989. The funk and the dance element woven into their music separated them from most of the 80s alternative scene. PWEI had a dark undercurrent, but often balanced it out with humor.

This song, though, brings the funk and runs more harrowing than most of the tunes from This is the Day…This is the Hour…This is This, still a favorite album of mine.

“Sin”, Nine Inch Nails: Excellent upon its release in October of 1989, the wonderfully dark, slippery, sleazy “Sin” is still killer almost 30 years later!

Every time I give any thought to giving this CD away, I tell myself I’ll give it another listen before I make a final decision. Yep. It’s still tucked away upstairs.

It’s not that I’m a big NIN fan; rather, this particular offering STILL rocks! Personally, I never understood why this song never got the praise it deserved.

MUCH head-thrashing accompanied this song when I wasn’t on a first name basis with a chiropractor!

“People Are Strange”, Echo and the Bunnymen: I find no fault with the Doors original, but the alternative chick in me gravitates toward the Echo and the Bunnymen cover. No matter how many times I hear those first few notes, they ALWAYS sound ominous!

Ian McCullough’s delivery is perfect, the ideal combo of subtly creepy and blasé. The Bunnymen play every note to perfection. The piano and guitar-work, in particular, are stand-outs.

Update: Well, dadgum! It appears that this song has been removed from Spotify. (Though it could be my ineptitude.)

“The Road to Hell, Part 2”, Chris Rea: You didn’t expect this one, did you? Oh, but it’s soooo good! That guitar, Chris’ gravelly, worn voice, the chorus.

It may fall in the rock/blues realm, but lyrically it’s as bleak as any song on my list. The rockin’ beginning is one of my very favorite starts to any song and the final 90 seconds are truly spectacular.

“The Light”, Love and Rockets: “So Alive”, with its gorgeous, memorable black and white video, deserved every bit of cross-over success it found in 1989. Having said that, those who have been reading me for years (before my recent jump to Medium) know that I prefer the tunes from “Earth, Sun, Moon”.

I’m not sure I could pick a favorite off of that album because there are simply too many amazing tunes, but I will admit to being quite the fan of the slow-burn that is “The Light.” I suspect it’s over-looked, so I’m happy to highlight it on this mix.

“Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”, Concrete Blonde: I have to acknowledge that my Concrete Blonde knowledge is very limited, but I consider the funky, sexy, eerie “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde to be THE iconic Halloween song.

In my world, no Halloween mix is complete without this song. (I’m cool if you choose MJ’s “Thriller”. I won’t hold it against you for a conventional pick when it’s that fun!)

Credit: rzrction

“Witchcraft”, Book of Love: A quirkier tune by Book of Love and one that I have always liked. Off-kilter, kooky lyrics, and some delicious synthesizers.

Particularly special to me due to a very close neighbor of mine growing up who played this tape/CD in her car all the time. Happy memories make this an eternal favorite Halloween pick in my world!

“Dead Man’s Party (live)”, Oingo Boingo: As much as I find Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting” to be the perfect Halloween tune, “Dead Man’s Party” might be its match.

This live version is such a treat: extra energy by the band and lead singer Danny Elfman. Morbid, catchy, eccentric. They just don’t make music like this anymore, do they?

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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Bonnie Barton

Queen of mixtapes. Lover of music, travel, and fashion. Authentic sharer of life lessons and dating foibles.